Paying attention to your dealership’s online reputation matters

Would you buy a car from … you?

That was a question posed in a recent article in Dealer Solutions Magazine. How you ultimately answer it could tell you a lot about the state of your dealership.

“A lot of attention has been paid over the past several years to the processes inside the dealership for buying a car,” wrote Chris Walsh, an expert in market strategy, competitive analysis and sales process.

“Yet, the customer experience outside the dealership is equally important, especially since the vast majority of consumers start their car-buying journey online … Delivering a poor experience online means you’ll likely never get to see those shoppers in your store.”

033017 IL Time to move on from tax season and plan for May-hem (and summer)The article suggests looking at your business from the outside-in – the same way your customers would. And that means you start by looking for a brand or model that you sell.

We tried it with an actual dealership – pretending to be a general manager pretending to be a customer.

To begin with, we Googled a favorite make and model in three adjacent communities, and our dealership came up second in the results after four paid ads, and still on the first screen. Then we searched for our dealership simply by brand and city with our sample dealership coming up first after two paid ads. Not a bad start we figured, but, of course, there’s more to it than that.

Next our general manager’s attention was captured by ratings stars of,, Yelp and Facebook just below and still on the first page of the search results. That proved to be a bit of a double-edged sword, although the outcome generally was favorable.

Our dealership ratings ranged from highs on DealerRater, 4.6 stars out of five from 491 reviews, and, 4.6 stars, 619 reviews, to a low on Yelp at 2.6 stars from 143 reviews, with our average rating for 1,427 reviews across the four websites 4.3 stars. Still, we noted that we would go back to take a look at positive and negative results to see what’s working and what needs to be fixed. But be careful about how you handle negative reviews, though – you don’t want to make matters worse.

Then our general manager checked out results for two of our nearby competitors, one of which scored better across all four websites, averaging 4.8 stars from 7,303 reviews, with the second scoring better on one website ( but worse on the other three, averaging 4.0 stars from 1,706 reviews.

While online reviews aren’t the only online performance metric to consider, the results certainly are a red flag if our general manager is going to maximize his dealership’s sales.

“Be honest, if you were the customer, from which dealership would you buy?” asked Dealer Solutions.

Next: How easy is your website to use compared to your competitors?

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